- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2005

MIAMI (AP) — Lobbyist Jack Abramoff was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury on fraud charges arising from a 2000 deal to buy casino boats.

The indictment, returned by a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., charges that Mr. Abramoff and an associate, 36-year-old New York businessman Adam Kidan, used a fake wire transfer to defraud two lenders out of about $60 million to finance the deal for SunCruz Casinos.

Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Kidan are charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Each count carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said Mr. Abramoff was in FBI custody in Los Angeles. Mr. Kidan’s attorney in Florida, Martin Jaffe, said his client would surrender to authorities in Fort Lauderdale today.

Mr. Abramoff’s Miami attorney, Neal Sonnett, said he had not been informed of any charges but added that Mr. Abramoff, 40, did not commit fraud. Mr. Abramoff had been notified that he was a target of the investigation.

“We were hopeful we’d be able to convince the prosecutor not to file charges because he was not involved in fraud involving SunCruz,” Mr. Sonnett said.

“I did nothing wrong, and these allegations are totally unfounded,” Mr. Kidan said.

The partners bought SunCruz, which runs a fleet of gambling boats, from entrepreneur Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis for $147 million in 2000, but the deal soon fell apart. Amid bitter legal fighting over the sale, Mr. Boulis was fatally shot five months later in 2001 in what police called a hit. The killing has not been solved.

The indictment against Mr. Abramoff charges that he used income from SunCruz to finance political fundraising activities, including events at private boxes at Washington-area sports venues such as the MCI Center and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The two lenders reportedly defrauded in the SunCruz deal were Foothill Capital Corp., a subsidiary of Wells Fargo, and Citadel Equity Fund Ltd., based in the Cayman Islands, according to court documents in a civil lawsuit.

Mr. Abramoff also is under federal investigation in Washington by a grand jury investigating whether he and a lobbying partner overcharged Indian tribes by millions of dollars for their work.

Rep Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, was not mentioned in any lawsuits involved in the SunCruz deal.

Mr. DeLay has asked the House ethics committee to review accusations that Mr. Abramoff or his clients paid some of Mr. DeLay’s overseas travel expenses. Mr. DeLay has denied knowing that the expenses were paid by Mr. Abramoff, whom the lawmaker once called “one of my closest and dearest friends.”

Mr. Abramoff collected more than $100,000 for President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and raised thousands of dollars for Mr. DeLay and other Republican members of Congress. He also was friends with former Christian Coalition of America leader Ralph Reed, now a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

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